The Research Project Europe 1815-1914

P.O. Box 24
Unioninkatu 40
FI-00014 University of Helsinki




The programme is continuously updated. New events might be advertised with short notice. External participants are welcome but preferably on a regular basis. Since the number of seats is limited pre-registration with project coordinator Minna Vainio (erere-info[at] is requested.

February 2011
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8 Feb
Legal Thought reading seminar: Jhering, Ehrlich and German 19th century sociological legal thought, Kaius Tuori

This was the second seminar led by legal scholar Kaius Touri - this time focusing on the emergence of the 'sociological jurisprudence' from the second half of nineteenth century Germany. In particular, Touri concentrated on the contribution of Rudolph von Jhering to legal theory and on his prominent work Geist des römischen Rechts auf den verschiedenen Stufen seiner Entwicklung, 1852-1865(The Spirit of Roman Law).
He provided a conceptual map of Jhering's thought which accordingly could be read as posited against the philosophical tradition of law and within the realm of Roman law. Yet, it departed from a static, systemic and moral conception of law, which Savigny's 'historical jurisprudence' and the more recent 'conceptual jurisprudence' ascribed to, offering instead a dynamic notion of law based on egoism and the human feeling of revenge. As he put it, "Law for him meant 'blood and guts' and goes against the system approach."

The discussion opened up with questions on Jhering's understanding and use of Roman law at this time and the emergence of concept of state in his writing as opposed to the lack of it in the 'historical jurisprudence.' Because of his perception of Jhering as outstanding but eccentric legal scholar, Touri was reluctant to place him as legal commentator of the late nineteenth-century German political context, beyond the academic realm.

15 Feb
Legal Thought reading seminar: From the code civil to "social law": French 19th century jurisprudence, Martti Koskenniemi

In the fourth and last of the reading seminars on nineteenth-century legal thought, Martti Koskenniemi discussed the history of French jurisprudence, from the promulgation of the code civil to the new trends in legal thought that emerged at the turn of the twentieth century. Early nineteenth-century French jurists, he argued, were concerned primarily with exposition of the text of the code civil and commentary upon its principles. Few amongst them matched up to the sophistication of Portalis. Only later in the century did an interest in the broader social implications of legal practice drive a reappraisal of the principles of legal reasoning. Illustrative of the change was the work of François Gény, whose attempt to found jurisprudence upon 'the nature of things' was examined in some detail.